Friday's interesting discussion has spun-off other posts. Stan has posted twice to develop some ideas from the comments and Greg supports the valuation of the premium in beer, suggesting I may be a wee bit of the cheeky contrarian in this - which is of course in part true, but I prefer "The Inquisatron" as that is what the logo on my green cape reads. One other place the post has been followed up is in this very good discussion at ratebeer mainly drawing off of this comment by Tomme Arthur of Lost Abbey. This ratebeer-er of the Chama River Brewing of New Mexico, codename "erway"...unless his name really is erway - Stan?, makes some excellent observations about packaging and storage time:
The bottles add to the value of the beer in many customers minds. Maybe not to yours, but those 375s that Vinnie is using just look cool. JP is not going through the same aging that RR and LA beers are. They are a great product and cheers to Ron for getting his process down so well, but he can produce a lot more of the vaste majority of his beer than Tomme or Vinnie can of theirs....and I think he posted it about five minutes ago. This internet thing may have a future.
Anyway, that is exactly the sort of detail we drinkers need more information about. I am not the slightest bit interested in being a ticker of beer, claiming that I have had 2,376 different beers while lowly you has had only "experienced" 1,932 (both consuming most in one ounce portions for efficiency's sake). No, I want to know the why and how decisions are made and why they are decisions that deserve the premium I will be asked to pay. That was one of the things that popped into my mind when I read this from Tomme Arthur:
I needed to purchase glass for our Older Viscosity. The bill for the glass was 8K. This beer will retail for $10 per 375 ml cork finished bottle. It certainly is expensive. Yet, the bottle costs almost $2 for the glass, cork, hood and wire and label. That's before we even put an ounce of the 12.5% ABV 8 months in a new boubon barrel beer in the bottle. I think it's too cheap given the amount of effort to produce this.For me that is a stunningly refreshing disclosure even if "effort" alone, though a great thing, has to be well placed in any enterprise - effort in itself is not cause enough for reward as many folks with dead end jobs will tell you. No, I want to know even more than that. Would it offend to ask that the costs of aging be quantified. Is it possible that, as it was with most things, that I be offered the storage opportunity (and the responsibility bear the resulting cost) by selling me a demi-firkin young just as I can buy my bottle of vintage port young for decades of home aging? And was I really aware that 20% of a beer's cost might be the bit I throw away, the wrapper? Why is that a good decision when almost twice as much bourbon barrel aged high test ale can be bought from a brewer like Weyerbacher? Sure the corked bottles "just look cool" but if you can cut a buck off the cost of a unit of the fluid by putting it in the 22 oz bomber, please do. Why not give me a choice and treat that premium packaging of a corked bottle as a special edition just as you would with a little wooden crate?
This has nothing to do with Lost Abbey whose fine brews are simply geographically beyond my reach and jurisdictionally beyond postal sampling, seeing as I live in Canada and our wonderful residual blue laws. And, of course, many craft brewers certainly do give packaging alternative, even though I still wait for the invention of the quarter-gallon growler. But if I had more of an idea of the options in this aspect of what goes into putting the bottle on my table, I would be able to make better informed decisions and support brewers whose decision making meets my needs. Why can't more craft brewers be a little more unlike other producers of goods, take the risk of opening the books and put as much information out into the public sphere - as a great brewer like Tomme Arthur has here and on his blog and as a brewer like Smuttynose puts on its website. It has nothing to do with checking with a brewer drives a Rolls. Simply put: better informed drinkers are more loyal drinkers as far as I am concerned.
Does such information matter to you? What do you want to know about your beer?